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CNN Live Event/Special

Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 19, 2022 - 20:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: They cannot get rid of us. I'm so happy to be here. I hope you're happy to be here at home.

JUNETEENTH: A GLOBAL CELEBRATION FOR FREEDOM is about to begin right here on CNN. Here it is, everyone. Enjoy. We'll see you after the show.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: June 19th, 1865, Juneteenth, the day freedom in America took on a different meeting. Amidst the bitter and bloody war between the slave-holding South and the industrial North, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring that enslaved people in all Confederate controlled states were free. But freedom did not come instantly. It was a slow trickle.

As Union soldiers advance throughout the South to spread the good news that the almost four million human beings held in captivity throughout the nation would now be free, paving the way for them to marry, to vote, to own property, to assemble and worship, to decide their own destinies.

The Civil War officially ended in April 1865, but in a small community of Galveston Island, Texas, enslaved people remains oblivious to their new reality until June 19th, 1865. Two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation when U.S. General Gordon Granger stood before a crowd of onlookers and informed the last enslaved black people in America that freedom had finally come.

The people erupted in joy. That joy became the catalyst for Juneteenth. In 2021 Juneteenth became an official federal holiday. Now recognized across the United States as a day of national celebration.

Juneteenth is a reminder. It is a reminder of what black people in America have been through and what black people have overcome. It is a commemoration of our resilience, our ingenuity, and most importantly our capacity for joy.

Our joy is worthy of celebration, and on this day we remember that our freedom must be honored, nurtured and protected. On this day we lift our voices and we sing. (END VIDEO CLIP)



ANNOUNCER: Welcome to JUNETEENTH, A GLOBAL CELEBRATION FOR FREEDOM, featuring performances by Yolanda Adams, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Roots, Chaka Khan, Mickey Guyton, Lucky Daye, Mary Mary, Billy Porter, Robert Glasper, Ne-Yo, D Smoke, Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton, Bel Biv DeVoe, Michelle Williams, Khalid, Amir Sulaiman, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Adam Blackstone and the BBE All-Star Band, Derrick Hodge and Thomas Wilkins, and the Re-Collective Orchestra.

And now please welcome our first guest, actor and comedian Deon Cole.


DEON COLE, COMEDIAN AND ACTOR: Come on, you all can do better than that, man. Make some noise. Make some noise. Good evening, good evening, everybody. Black people, white people, brown people and all freedom lovers around the world.

I am Deon Cole, and it is my pleasure to welcome to you to JUNETEENTH: A GLOBAL CELEBRATION FOR FREEDOM on CNN, baby. Give it up, yes.


COLE: Now you can believe it or not, man, this is only the second year Juneteenth is being observed as a national federal holiday. So you know we had to do it big tonight, you all know, that right, right? We've got the Re-Collective Orchestra here tonight. It's the first time an all-black orchestra is performing at the Hollywood Bowl. Give it up, yes.


COLE: Yes, yes, yes. Now, this is a global celebration, right, and everybody is invited to the cookout, but listen here, all right. We're going to do something really nice tonight. We're going to celebrate our black freedom and black people, OK, but, look, we still have to manage our blackness, OK, you all. We (INAUDIBLE), there ain't no it's the freedom for me T-shirts, ain't no freedom is a vibe napkins and fans. We ain't going to do none of that tonight. All right? We're just going to give it up for everybody you all see and get love as if it was out there performing. Get some noise, make some noise, make some noise now.


COLE: Right. What we have tonight, we're going to have a great time. We've got some phenomenal presenters. We got some of the most iconic black musical artists of all time to celebrate tonight, so to kick it off this evening, everybody, we have a musical legend. Oh, I'm so excited. You can you see her this October at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Please welcome my sister, the incomparable Chaka Khan. Accompanied by The Roots, everybody. Let's go.





KHAN: How you doing tonight? What a night. This is all you, powerful women out there tonight. Ready? Go.


KHAN: Thank you. I love you, California. Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: Our celebration continues with performances from Robert Glasper, D Smoke and Amir Sulaiman. Plus a special message from Vice President Kamala Harris. And still to come, Earth, Wind and Fire takes the stage.





KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Happy Juneteenth, everyone. I have spent many a wonderful evening at the Hollywood Bowl and I hope you are enjoying this evening.

I can think of no better way to observe Juneteenth than being with community. I hope all of you are with your family in whatever shape or form you define it because today is a day for togetherness, to share our stories and to teach our history.

On Juneteenth we celebrate the fulfillment of Emancipation, the proclamation that all people held as slaves shall henceforth be forever free. It returned to them what was taken from them, the freedom that was theirs by birth and by right, autonomy over their own body and their own life, the promise of liberty and independence.

In doing so our nation defined freedom in opposition to slavery of black people in America. It was a step toward making real the ideals set forth at the founding of our nation, that we are all entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and so through the time of Emancipation we have been fighting to secure the promise of liberty for all Americans, a fight that laid the foundation for all the fights that followed, including the fight to ensure that all children have equal educational opportunity, that all women have a right to make decisions about their own bodies, and that all people have the right to marry the person they love.

[20:20:12] The fight to protect the promise of freedom continues to this day and it unites us all. So when we celebrate Juneteenth as a national holiday, let us all recommit ourselves to defending our God-given and inalienable right to freedom, and let us make real the promise of liberty and justice for all.

I wish you and your family a happy Juneteenth. Take care, everybody.


ANNOUNCER: Please welcome, actor Michael Ealy.


MICHAEL EALY, ACTOR: Black folks turned suffering and cries for justice into art like nobody else. One of our goals tonight is to celebrate black culture in its myriad forms of interconnected artistic expression. Take for example this next performance, a genre-busting collaboration between Robert Glasper, D Smoke and Amir Sulaiman.





AMIR SULAIMAN, POET: You will be someone's ancestor. Act accordingly. For our children, for our children's children, for those weapons that will inevitably be formed against them, that your granddaughter can whisper through gritted teeth, I am the granddaughter of so and so, so I cannot fail.

You will be someone's ancestor. Act accordingly. So your grandson when he is surrounded by his enemies on the battlefield of life that he won't raise his weapon over his raised head and his raised voice will exclaim, I am the grandson of so and so. And that will be an inspiration for those with him and a warning for those who stand against him.

You will be someone's ancestor. Act accordingly. For God has said every soul shall taste death, but if you are afraid of that, why be afraid? It is going to happen. Death will have its day but you will be someone's ancestor. So act accordingly.

There are some people who, they're so, so great for the grave, but God, our women, laying beneath the ground that are more alive than many of the living. There are men lying still in their coffins more active than the activists. They have done their deeds. They have lived their mission. Will you let the dead outlive you?

Hold the saints and let the dead outlive you. You, you will be someone's ancestor. Act accordingly. For God has said, do they think that we created them with no purpose and they will not be returned back to us? No, you will be returned to God, and when you return to the Most High, return actualized, spirit alive, realize that song stuck in your heart, let it go. That word stuck in your throat, let it free. That dance in your limbs, let it be, for you will be someone's ancestor. Act accordingly.



SULAIMAN: This man kneeled on a man's neck. Eight minutes and 40 seconds. Eight minutes and 46 seconds. Can you imagine, imagine, imagine?

Thought he was going to die. He knew he was going to die. He called for his mother. Mother, mother. Thought he was going to die. He knew he was going to die. He called for his mother, mother, mother, mother, mother.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up, Lucky Daye, and later Mickey Guyton takes the stage, and still to come special messages from President Biden and Mrs. Michelle Obama, when our JUNETEENTH: A GLOBAL CELEBRATION FOR FREEDOM continues.




You know him best from BET's "New Edition Story" and HBO's "Euphoria," actor Algee Smith.

ALGEE SMITH, ACTOR AND SINGER: OK. So, all right, I've got to get through this. How you all doing? OK, OK. Let me focus. Let me focus. All right. Happy Juneteenth.


SMITH: All right. All right. Let me focus. Focus, OK, OK. 185 years ago the first black university in America was founded ushering in a rich history of HBCUs that took exclusion and mold it into community. Today all HBCUs remain havens for black students, black educators, black minds. I'm talking about Howard, Hampton, Florida A&M, Spellman, Morehouse.

OK, OK, OK. But the impact of HBCUs expands beyond any classroom or campus. This Juneteenth we celebrate and honor the importance of HBCUs now more than ever and helping to change makers of tomorrow become exactly who they are meant to be.

Happy Juneteenth, baby.



K. MICHELLE, SINGER/SONGWRITER, FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY: My HBCU experience really changed my entire life.

AFFION CROCKETT, COMEDIAN/ENTERTAINER, FAYETTEVILLE STATE UNIVERSITY: Like I'm a product, everything you see me do on TV, on stage, whatever it is, I was doing it already at Fayetteville State, and honing the craft there.

SUSAN KELECHI WATSON, ACTOR/PRODUCER, HOWARD UNIVERSITY: It was one of those decisions that you didn't know you were making the greatest decision of your life. You had schools like Howard, like Spellman, like Morehouse, notorious for turning out people who have been titans of industry, culture, creativity and art.

The people that are coming out of these schools are literally changing the world. The medical school at Howard is one of the leading medical schools in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Starting in 1861, historically black colleges were created as a response to the racial discrimination that kept black people from pursuing higher education. For more than 150 years these institutions have become a cornerstone of black culture and excellence.

K. MICHELLE: I feel like HBCUs play a role in the freedom of African- Americans because you're taught that you are great. You're taught that your melanin is special. You're taught that the way you move, the way you talk, the way you think, that something that the world needs.

CROCKETT: Because of that, their unity and that spiritual wave, I don't know what to call that fabric of who we are as a people you see it right there. You feel it.

WATSON: I've learned so much and built up so much, and there was an esteem I had about myself now understanding who I was in the world and understanding there are more people like me in the world and how validated you feel coming out of an HBCU.

CROCKETT: I think the more educated that the world can be about who we are in an HBCU setting would really give them a clear vision of who we are as a people across the board.


ANNOUNCER: Please welcome Raven Symone.

RAVEN SYMONE, ACTRESS AND SINGER: Hello, hello, hello. What's up, Hollywood Bowl? Happy Juneteenth. So glad to be here. So glad to be here. I get -- I get an exciting part of the show. He is a lyrical poet with an old-school soul redefining the power and beauty of R&B music. And he's here tonight for an electrifying performance.

Everybody, please welcome to the stage, Lucky Daye.



LUCKY DAYE, SINGER: Happy Juneteenth, everybody. OK.



DAYE: I love each and every one of you all. Thank you. Happy Pride, too.

ANNOUNCER: We will return with the Roots, plus performances by Mickey Guyton, Billy Porter and Ne-Yo, and still to come the legendary Earth, Wind and fire.





BEYONCE, SINGER: Miss Opal Lee, lovingly known around the world as the grandmother of Juneteenth. Today we honor her decades of unwavering commitment.

MISS OPAL LEE, GRANDMOTHER OF JUNETEENTH: Juneteenth for us means freedom. We don't realize that it can be snatched from us in a little space of time and we should guard freedom with our life.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): She decided years ago that Juneteenth was important and that she was going to make it a national holiday. She created this walk. It was symbolic of the 2.5 years that it took for the news to come about the Emancipation Proclamation, and she walked and led others for 2.5 miles.

BEYONCE: Now because of her work and countless others, Juneteenth is taking its rightful place in American history.

WATERS: It's not simply in the backyards anymore. It is being celebrated in museums, in auditoriums, in churches. It has expanded from the black community.

LEE: We need to be able for people to know our history. Dr. Myers is responsible for some 42 or 43 of the 50 states having observances about Juneteenth and I guess some of them rubbed off on me.

WATERS: So many people worked very hard to have Juneteenth celebrated as a national holiday, and now it's created and expanded discussion about what needs to be corrected in our country.

BEYONCE: Miss Opal has been serving her community for decades as a teacher, activist, a community organizer. Through her work at Opal's Farm, she is now redefining freedom for formerly incarcerated men and women that need a second chance.

LEE: It just happens that we got a farm and they just happened to be in prison and we just happened to put them together and there are so many other needs. So I'm going to keep on walking, keep on talking. Hope somebody listens.

BEYONCE: At the golden age of 95, Miss Opal Lee is continuing to keep her hands on the pulse of freedom with no plans to back down. Her vision for unity and freedom is infectious, energizing a new generation to carry the torch forward.

LEE: I feel that the next generation of young people are going to be the ones to get us out of the quagmire that we're in. If a person can be taught to hate, he can be taught to love, and I expect these young people to do it. I'm looking forward to it.



ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Lil Rel Howery.

LIL REL HOWERY, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: What up, what up, want to make some noise. What up? Hey, real quick, can we all do something for me real quick? Can we all just look around this place and look at each other and just make some noise for our ancestors, you all? Make some noise for our ancestors.


HOWERY: Such a beautiful thing. Now the beauty of Juneteenth and being together for such a major celebration is amazing. When a time to be alive, and not saying I'm old here but I'm old enough to remember when people could even consider hip-hop real music, but coming up is a group that puts the nail in the coffin of their argument by embodying versatility and the evolution of hip-hop and they've gone from underground artist to household name.


Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Roots.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, how you all feel out there? They say black joy is rebellion. Well, this is a global celebration of just that. Happy Juneteenth. Happy Pride. Make some noise if you love yourself.